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Sport Ryan Jack tipped for major Rangers impact as Derek McInnes offers insight into injured star's mentality

09:45  14 october  2021
09:45  14 october  2021 Source:   dailyrecord.co.uk

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The pic was of a pair of muddy boots but it hinted it’s not long before Ryan Jack gets the sleeves rolled up again.

And his former gaffer Derek McInnes reckons the return of the midfield lynchpin will be huge for Rangers as they look to get stuck into a crucial part of the season.

It’s been almost eight months since Jack last kicked a ball in anger for Steven Gerrard 's team thanks to a long-standing calf problem but the wait could soon be over after he posted a snap of his mucky footwear after training last week.

There’s no way Gers fans would say absence makes the heart grow fonder as they were already won over by the former Aberdeen enforcer long before his spell on the sidelines.

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But Jack being missing has certainly been felt this season though as Rangers haven’t quite hit last season’s heights just yet, despite moving to the top of the table before the international break.

Ex-Ger McInnes reckons his former Pittodrie skipper can give the side a major lift as he is more than just a master midfielder.

Jack is also a leader of men – who can influence games even when he’s not on the ball.

It’s that determination that will be needed as the champions go in to a gruelling spell at home and in Europe where they are looking to stamp down their authority in Scotland while competing on the continent.

McInnes said: “I think Ryan, through his performances over the last year or two, has shown most Rangers fans and certainly the manager that he is such a key player for them.

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“Even more so, this season, when he hasn’t played you can see how much he has been missed.

“When he is available, it does allow Rangers to maybe use Steven Davis a wee bit more strategically to keep him fresh because both players are very similar in how they play the game. They are like a metronome in the middle of the pitch and they are everybody’s first pass in the team.

“For me, Ryan makes every team he plays in better. He made my Aberdeen team better. He makes Rangers better when he plays and he makes Scotland better.

“He is a top, top player and hasn’t had his troubles to seek with injury. This latest injury has taken a bit longer to clear up than he’d have hoped.

“He was so disappointed to miss the Euros. I know he was gutted about that.


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“I spoke to him the week before the Malmo game and he thought he was only a week or two away from being back at that point, so he’s obviously had a little setback. It would be great for him to get back.

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“I know how much he loves his football and how much of an important player he’s become at Rangers.

“He’s had to earn that. Most people recognised him initially as a good player, playing for Aberdeen before coming to Rangers but I think he quickly established himself as a key player under Steven Gerrard.

“Stevie’s on the record as saying that as well and for Rangers he is vitally important.

“He knows the Premiership and when they play in Europe, he’s a possession-based midfielder, so he is vital in that environment.

“He backs himself. He can put his foot in, he can do a bit of everything and he is a very demanding player and team-mate.

“Having him on the training pitch and available on a Saturday again could be very important to Rangers.”

McInnes spotted Jack’s leadership qualities the moment he walked in the door at Pittodrie.

He admitted he could have chucked the midfielder the armband then and there – but he didn’t need a title to be a driving force in his team.

Jack was eventually made permanent Dons skipper at just 22 and racked up more than 250 appearances for the Granite City men before earning his move to Ibrox in 2019.

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McInnes said: “Your captain doesn’t need to be your best player. But he was my best player.

“I wanted to build my team around him and I told him that. I would have made him captain right away but Russell Anderson was there and I got a year out of Russell when I first went in to Aberdeen and what a great captain he was.

“But when I had a decision to make about who his successor was, there was no great deliberation from me, having worked with Ryan over that period of time. I knew he was everything I wanted in a captain because he is demanding. He trains properly day in, day out, and on a Saturday he doesn’t suffer fools gladly. He is a competitor and he demands and expects a level of performance from his team-mates.

“Plus, I wanted to make him feel important and build the team around him and that’s exactly what we did do.”

McInnes – who left Pittodrie in March after eight successful years – has been keeping tabs on his old charges and he’s hoping they can play a big part in Scotland’s final World Cup push.

He said: “I was gutted for both my ex-players, Ryan and Kenny McLean, they missed the Euros. Both lads were influential in the last few results for Scotland in qualifying and it was so tough for both of them to miss out.

“Kenny is back playing regularly now and hopefully Ryan will be soon, with the World Cup coming around so quickly.

“Ryan will be thinking first things first, which is getting a run of games in the Rangers first team and establishing himself again.

“He’ll do that, I’ve no doubt.”

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